Governor’s island visit focuses on leadership

LIHU’E — Contrary to what top Democratic leaders in Hawai’i have asserted, President George Bush has supported funding programs to fight crime and drug use across the nation, including Hawai’i, Republican Gov. Linda Lingle said Friday.

“The Bush administration has continually focused on the issue of drugs in the community, evidenced by the amount of money that has come into the state, both for law enforcement and drug eradication and alternate programs for young people,” Lingle said during a break of a luncheon held at Kaua’i Marriott Resort and Beach Club.

More than 250 business and civic leaders attended the luncheon hosted by the Kaua’i Leadership, an island-based organization whose goal is to help island leaders become better leaders, in the hope of making the island a better place for all to live.

Also in attendance were Kaua’i Mayor Bryan Baptiste and Maryanne Kusaka and Kaua’i County Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura, both former mayors of Kaua’i.

Lingle, who is up for re-election for another four-year term, was on island Thursday night for a fundraiser the Hawaii Republican Party threw at the hotel, a party member said.

In defending the Republican Party’s goals to fund programs to fight crime and reduce drug use nationwide, Lingle was responding to comments Rep. Ed Case, D-Neighbor Islands-rural O’ahu, made to The Garden Island last month on the issue.

Case had praised U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, D-Hawai’i, for his efforts to increase federal funds to fight ice, especially in Hawai’i.

But Case noted that the funds might not be there in the long run because Bush has not viewed the development or enhancement of anti-drug programs as a priority.

Case is challenging U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawai’i, for the Democratic primary berth in September.

Lingle said she wasn’t aware of the specific comments made by Case and wasn’t going to comment on them.

Lingle said, however, that Bush has focused on a comprehensive plan in fighting drug use, that of the interdiction of drugs, drug prevention and treatment, and Laura Bush, as well, has “a big focus on the issue.”

Lingle noted in her “State of the State” address given on O’ahu last month that she is asking for $10.2 million in federal funds to expand the About Face and Healthy Lifestyle programs for at-risk youths and needy adults.

A key supporter of the Kaua’i program has been Ted Daligdig III, a retired officer with the Hawai’i Army National Guard and a member of the Kaua’i Planning Commission.

Lingle said Congress ultimately determines how much money will be set aside for the war on drugs and crime. During a session of Kaua’i Leadership at the Marriott as well, Lingle laid out to an audience of more than 20 community, civic and business leaders what it takes to be a leader in Hawai’i today.

Lingle said they must have these qualities: a vision; the ability to communicate one’s vision or goals; and ability to motivate people to move in one direction for the benefit of all.

“A leader (is), someone who will take a group, or person and get them from here over to there,” she said.

But more often than not, leaders will rest on their laurels after reaching a goal, Lingle said.

“People spend too much time talking about what they are, and how they got there, rather than (look) where they might get to (next),” Lingle said.

To excel, leaders have to be cool under fire to find solutions, and she says she is that way.

“I am good when times are good, but when times are really bad, people are scared or certainly don’t know what to do, I become extremely calm,” she said. “And I think part of it is my training as a journalist.”

Good leaders also have to do a better job of communicating these days to hold the attention of young folks who work for them.

When those workers were growing up, they had parents who told them they could “do anything,” Lingle said.

The youths took the message to heart. Now in their 20s and making their way through the work world, they believe strongly they can make significant contributions to a company or organization now, not later, Lingle said.

Leaders also have to have perseverance, Lingle said.

She said she learned the value of that first hand in her bid for governor.

She failed in her bid to become governor in 1998, but in succeeding years, she convinced people her vision was Hawaii’s vision for the future.

Her perseverance, and the work of her supporters, she said, enabled her to become Hawai’i’s first woman governor and Hawai’i’s first Republican governor in 40 years.

Lingle said her tenure as a one-time chairwoman of the Hawaii Republican Party and as governor over the last four years has served the party well.

More and more seats in the Legislature are being won by Republicans, she said.

Tim Bynum, a candidate for a council seat this year and the head of Kaua’i Leadership, said Lingle’s presentation will be of great benefit to Kaua’i Leadership members.

“For her to meet with our students in an intimate setting is great for us,” Bynum said. “They are learning (about leadership) at the feet of the master.”

  • Lester Chang, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 225) and lchang@

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